A group spearheading the demand for a separate Gorkhaland headed on Monday for New Delhi for talks with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Jaswant Singh, who represents Darjeeling in the Lok Sabha, even as an indefinite strike called by the group shut down three hill sub-divisions.
"We're going to New Delhi and will talk with Jaswant Singh over the Gorkhaland issue. We've been deprived of all kinds of facilities in West Bengal and we don't want to be a part of this state. We don't feel secure here," Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) general secretary Roshan Giri told reporters before leaving for the national capital.
He said: "We'll only get justice if we are given a separate state of Gorkhaland."
Meanwhile normal life was also affected in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling as an indefinite shutdown, in support of a separate state of Gorkhaland, began at noon on Monday.
Shops and offices remained closed, tourists vehicles stayed off the roads, and hundreds of tourists and students were seen moving down to the plains from Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong sub-divisions.
"The indefinite shutdown began at 12 noon on Monday. We have spared tourists and students, who came to study in Darjeeling schools from outside, for Monday only and asked them to leave by Tuesday," GJM press and publicity secretary Benoy Tamang said.
State tourism department sources said that tourists had started moving down to plains from Sunday.
"As it was not peak season, very few tourists were there in Darjeeling. But this shutdown call will definitely impact the local economy of the district as tourists will not feel secure to visit if such situation continues," state tourism department (north Bengal) deputy director Gopal Lama said.
The GJM has also demanded that Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) KL Tamta be transferred out of the area, alleging that he was instigating people against the outfit.
According to sources, the district administration has alerted all police stations and other government establishments in the hills, and asked them to take precautions to prevent any untoward incident during the shutdown.
"We've already sent an assessment report on the situation to the state government. We are keeping a close watch on the political activity of the GJM," Darjeeling Superintendent of Police Rahul Srivastava said.
"So far, there has been no blockade on National Highway (NH) numbers-31A, NH-31 and NH-55 by the GJM activists. Police patrolling is also on on these three national highway stretches," he said.
The GJM, spearheading the movement in the hills for a separate Gorkhaland, organised indefinite shutdowns twice in the hills last year as also in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls this year, severely hitting tea and tourism - the bread and butter of the region.
Tripartite talks held last year in New Delhi had failed to break the deadlock.